Stalemate lines are a bunch of crap! That is to say, stalemate lines occur when they
are allowed to occur, and are very rarely forced to occur. Thus, in my opinion and from my
own experience, both as a player and as a GM, stalemate lines form mainly because of the
philosophy of play. Strong players who tend to win are also the same ones who will not
allow stalemate lines to come into being if they can help it.
Another way to look at it is that stalemate lines require, in general, at least
thirteen or so units. Consequently, those players who form stalemate lines are those who
give up too easily or early, or who could not force a win -- or, more importantly, were
allowed to form a stalemate line. To me, owning 13 units with no one ahead of you
generally means that you have an excellent chance of winning the game.
It is at this point, the middle game, when a power has grown to thirteen or so units,
where important decisions are necessary in order to maintain the momentum of your own
growth so that you can win. The beginning game's most important aspect is to establish an
alliance and fights among your enemies allowing you to survive and to expand. After the
initial expansions, the game comes to grips, in order that the major powers and their
minor power allies must fight each other. In order to get past this middle game, you must
maintain your momentum.
To maintain momentum, the best possible technique is to employ your weight around
Europe in a combination of power and diplomacy. The good players win their games here! The
almost good players are good tacticians and study stalemate lines - but they play
defensively and do not worry about the real game. For if they did, they would not have to
worry about building a stalemate line for defence, since they would have maintained their
own momentum of growth.
I am not against developing stalemate lines if your cause is otherwise hopelessly lost,
but I believe that in most cases this would be, at best, a poor alternative to what you
could have done to maintain your momentum. The balance of power on the board with respect
to the good players is maintained in their own favour. There is thus far less likelihood
of stalemates or draws forming in the game.
My game style is different from that of the player who would employ a stalemate line. I
play to break lines to maintain and nurse allies who can help my cause, or as the case may
be, our cause. Tactics do play a part, but only in the offensive sense. In brief, to study
stalemate lines is a waste of time when you could study techniques of being able to
decipher the balance of power and to make it lean in your direction. If this is done, you
won't need any stalemate lines.
Reprinted from Erehwon 87, 13th May 1975